Tonga PM: Public Consultations On CEDAW To Be Held This Year

Tonga is one of only six UN members which haven't ratified CEDAW, including Iran, Sudan, Somalia and the USA

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, February 06, 2017) – Tonga's Prime Minister says the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, will be the focus of public consultations later in the year.

Tonga has been preparing to ratify the convention since 2015 but last year 'Akilisi Pohiva said the Government was stepping back from ratification after opponents protested that it could open the way for same-sex marriage and abortion.

Mr Pohiva said local women's groups would be asked to carry out public consultations again.

He said the subject had divided the nation.

"We made it clear that some of the clauses in regards to CEDAW are well taken by government and there are a few we do not think that they are appropriate," he said.

"We cannot apply this provision in the case of Tonga. That is why we thought the most appropriate action to be taken is to send them back for review and for discussion," 'Akilisi Pohiva.

Tonga is one of only six UN members which haven't ratified CEDAW, including Iran, Sudan, Somalia and the USA.

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I want to know exactly which part of CEDAW is deemed not appropriate for Tongan society, and also what is the sixth nation in the UN.

The sixth country that has not ratified or acceded to the treaty is Palau. According to this article there is concern that the treaty will open up the way for same-sex marriage and the legalization of abortion in Tonga--conservatives in the United States have expressed the same concerns. According to an Amnesty International fact sheet on the treaty (https://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/cedaw_fact_sheet.pdf) CEDAW is both "abortion neutral" and silent on the issue of same-sex marriage.

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